There is a vital relationship between modes of resonance and the potencies of emanations. One can readily see that if resonance and purity of tone have some connection with Rta and Dharma – cosmic order and moral solidarity – much depends upon the level of conscious awareness with which any sound is uttered. Every human being who emits any sound at any level of awareness releases a chain of consequences for which one is responsible, affecting monads, atoms and gods, all sentient points in nature. The Voice of the Silence teaches: “Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance.” This sacred injunction presupposes a sublime philosophy of Nature. Perfected human beings have trained themselves over myriad lives in the masterful use of everything that Nature provides, including their own vestures. They work for the good of the whole and on the invisible plane, producing reverberations in the visible world. Surely this conception must be based upon a very different view of Nature from that which is found in materialistic science or in conventional religion.
The term ‘nature’ is derived from the root nasci, ‘to be born’. All things are born in space and in time. They must grow, decay and die in time and in space. Just as the searing and decaying of a leaf into autumnal yellow suggests a mellowness in Nature, so Nature is meaningful at every level and in all its processes. The vital part of its ceaseless activity is hidden. Even though the invisible side of Nature cannot be seen by the naked eye, nevertheless by watching how Nature works, one can work with Nature and trust in the Law – this is the ancestral wisdom of humanity. If Nature is everything that is born and everything that exists, then even etymologically Nature is a vaster whole than is conveyed merely by visible phenomena. Science has evolved because human minds penetrated the veil of the visible and formulated theories, equations and models that pertain to the invisible mathematics of Nature. In the twentieth century science came to recognize the limitations of traditional mathematics as well as its own limitations in the use of mathematics. In quantum mechanics a shift from mathematical certainty to statistical generalization permits probabilistic explanations that encompass a great deal of what goes on invisibly in Nature and which can be tested under controlled conditions. Experimental science is very young, going back to the seventeenth century and the founding of the Royal Society. Science is growing, evolving, and it has the discipline of its methodology as well as an increasing awareness of its own methodological limitations. It was initially handicapped because it inherited a conception of matter which came from traditional religion, specifically from the narrow theological view of biblical cosmogony which declared that matter is inert. This static conception of matter is associated with the dogma that the world was created out of nothing.
Unlike the ancient Greeks who had a subtle metaphysical concept of Chaos, modern science inherited a view where ‘nothing’ simply meant the absence of any visible world. This unphilosophical view arose because people took literally a mythic statement in the New Testament and thus missed the mystical power and evocative meaning of the text: “In the beginning was the Word.” Whenever a mystical statement is translated into a literal proposition or a dogmatic belief, its inner meaning is lost. Scientific methodology distorted by philosophical crudity reinforced the view of matter as inert, which in theology needs to be acted upon by an external animate being of which there was only one. The problem became ontological in that this animate being – of which there is only one – was held to be everywhere and simultaneously in an anthropomorphic form. This raises the insoluble problem of assigning the authorship of the entire visible world to a superhuman entity with an inscrutable will. This materializes the concept of Godhead and destroys the ethical foundations of nature and man. Even today many people continue to be influenced by facile concepts picked up in casual conversation and especially in the vast array of sensory images. In general, owing to mental laziness and for lack of contemplation, people cannot cut through the chaos, let alone consciously initiate a series of emanations out of deep meditation upon the Soundless Sound.
Given any cogent doctrine of ethical responsibility, we are truly thrown back upon ourselves. Human beings can always make a difference by the power of choice in the use that they make of what they know at any level and by translating what they know into practice. What is it, then, that blocks an individual who knows all of this from putting it into practice? The question could be framed in specific terms: Why is it that when somebody sincerely wants to meditate upon the OM, he is repeatedly obstructed? This is due to the accumulated karma of misuse, non-use and incompletion. When a person wants to meditate deeply, the level of consciousness becomes critical. Pure consciousness arises in manas and is rooted in the Buddhic light of eternal motion, the universal consciousness of the Atman. Filtering down, no doubt slowly, it can be focussed intensively by concentration, and when practised with continuity, it can arouse intuition, the insight and illumination of Buddhi. Every human being has all of these available within his own nature, and, therefore, can self-consciously release the spiritual will. A person must initially allocate time not only for meditation but also for deliberate planning and calm contemplation, and also show a continuing care of thought-patterns that emerge and which can be modified by deliberation and discrimination. This can be done with an authentic sense of the sacred in a deepening silence that increasingly controls the use of words.
The greater calm arising through a stronger sense of the sacred helps one to move beyond sound – toward the Soundless Sound – from an initial level of consciousness to higher levels of universal self-consciousness by degrees and by a slow ascent. This persistent process also makes a decisive difference to one’s relationship to invisible Nature, to one’s appreciation of physical nature, and one’s capacity “to help Nature and work on with her”. One is everywhere and nowhere in one’s deepest Self, and yet one is helpless if one has created a false identity out of ever-moving tendencies. Rather than experiencing the living stasis of universal consciousness, people cling to a false static conception of self because they cannot control the mind and still their thoughts and withdraw into the inmost silence, the sanctuary of which Krishna speaks in the ninth chapter of the Gita. How, then, can continuity and steadfastness be discriminated from inflexibility? Such queries point to a more fundamental question: How can one determine what is an adequate idea? If one has an inadequate idea of the Self or an inadequate idea of mind, can one have an adequate idea of anything? Obviously not, for the ordinary mind is not only ontologically limited by finitude but also psychologically limited by lethargy. It is limited by seizing upon tokens of something larger. Here we have the basic distinction between kama manas – desire-mind – and pure manas, the true principle of creative thought. The ideas that people have are inadequate because the power of thinking is not freed from fixed preconceptions, fleeting sensations and partial perceptions. The great hope of spiritual growth lies in that just as the inexhaustible wealth of manifestation is itself only like a drop in the ocean compared to what is beyond – TAT – so, also, for a human being the whole of a lifetime, the succession of lifetimes, is like a drop in the ocean of the potential power of the Atman that is focussed through Buddhi in manas. Meditation is the perennial source of hope for the whole of humanity.
Hermes, June 1979